Minutes after eating his last meal, death row inmate Duane Edward Buck, 48, received a reprieve from the U.S. Supreme Court based on questions about a psychologist who testified that blacks and Hispanics were more likely to commit future crimes.
“Praise the Lord Jesus,” said Buck, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark, who also reported that the condemned man declared, "God is worthy to be praised. God's mercy triumphs over judgment, and I feel good."
Buck was convicted in 1997 of capital murder in connection with the deaths of his former girlfriend, Debra Gardner and her suspected boyfriend Kenneth Butler. . Buck accused Butler of sleeping with Gardner and allegedly shot him to death in the hallway of Gardner’s home. He then is reported to have chased Gardner out into the street and killed her.
Buck had been set to die by lethal injection, but the Supreme Court delayed the execution to give it time to examine a lower court’s handling of the case.
During the trial, jurors heard testimony from defense psychologist Walter Quijano, who made the claim that his research indicated black men were more likely to offend again if they were let out of prison.
This was important testimony, for having convinced the jurors of the defendant’s guilt, in order to secure a capital punishment conviction in Texas, the state needed to prove that Buck posed a threat to society in the future.
Buck's case is one of nine death row inmate cases to have received the benefit of sentence hearing testimony from the psychologist, according to Texas authorities.
Although dissimilar to the circumstances in the Troy Davis case, another high profiled death row inmate currently seeking clemency, the news of Buck’s reprieve brings into focus the controversies surrounding the issue of capital punishment.